x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Wahda players are on high alert against 'always tough' Dubai

With both teams facing lower-half of the table squads, both Al Wahda, who are playing Dubai, and Al Nasr, who will face Kalba, have been warned by their coaches not to take their opponents lightly.

Tawfeeq Al Hosani, right, and his Al Wahda teammates have been told not to have a letdown against Dubai, a team that always seems to play their best against Wahda.
Tawfeeq Al Hosani, right, and his Al Wahda teammates have been told not to have a letdown against Dubai, a team that always seems to play their best against Wahda.

Al Wahda players have been warned not to take Saturday night's Pro League visitors Dubai lightly.

The Abu Dhabi club have bounced back after losing their opening league match against Al Wasl 4-1, with victories overAl Shabab (1-0) and Kalba (6-0) and returned with a point from Al Ain following a goalless draw in their last Etisalat Cup match.

Confidence is high in the Wahda ranks after those matches, but Abdullah Saleh, a board member of the club's football company, warned against underestimating Dubai as they have taken a point from the capital club in each of their last two visits.

In the 2010/11 season, Wahda were held to a 2-2 draw by the visitors and last November, their match in Abu Dhabi finished 1-1.

"Dubai have managed to embarrass us at home in the last two seasons and they are a team worthy of respect," Saleh said.

"As history tell us, our matches against Dubai have always been tough and exciting. They usually play their best matches against us, but if we remain focused, we are confident our players can provide the expected result. It is an important game for us and we are looking for three points, especially since we are playing at home."

Wahda will be missing Ismail Matar for the game as he has been resting since his return from Germany on Tuesday night.

He is undergoing treatment for a knee injury and has been advised to take "72 hours of complete rest" after every session.

The Omani defender Mohammed Al Shaibah could also be missing after being injured while on national duty in the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Jordan on Tuesday.

Tests are being conducted to determine the extent of his injury.

Dubai have no such injury concerns and Khalid Al Kaabi, the director of football at the club, is hoping his team can make some progress after losing their last two games - 3-2 to Baniyas in the Pro League and 4-2 against Al Ain in the Etisalat Cup.

"We are looking to turn the tide after those two defeats," he said.

"We have an opportunity to get a positive result at Al Wahda and our players realise the importance of this game.

"It is going to be a difficult game, but we trust in the abilities of our players."

 

ZENGA WANTS NO SLIP-UPS AGAINST KALBA

Walter Zenga has described Saturday night's game between his Pro League leaders Al Nasr and bottom-placed Kalba as one the most difficult matches for his team.

Kalba have lost all their five Etisalat Cup and league matches this season, conceding 17 goals in the process, and while most would consider this to be an easy outing for Nasr, Zenga said it is a potential banana skin and a contest that needs to be taken seriously.

"I would prefer to play Al Ahli, Al Shabab and Al Wahda because I know what to expect," the Italian coach of Nasr said.

"But with Kalba you don't know. They have not won a game up to now, but that does not mean they cannot win this one. Last year, we lost 1-0 to Dubai and they were at the bottom of the table that time. So I really hope the players do not take this game lightly and believe Kalba cannot beat them.

"They should concentrate and play for a win."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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